30/10/2021 Warren Bobrow is an accomplished author, chef, barman, Cannabis alchemist, the master mixologist. He is also the creator of the RTD Cannabis drinks line Klaus
"From the Cocktail Whisperer himself, "I had to figure out how to follow my dreams and most importantly make a living. Having washed dishes, and cleaned restaurants, I could always get a job. Even at fifty - after a twenty-year career in banking…I became a bar back. At the Ryland Inn, a former Relais/Chateaux brand that was in need of a bar back", Warren Bobrow.
Cannabis Reader sits down with him on books, cannabis drinks and the culture of cannabis.
How did you end up in Cannabis, when did you first try cannabis? And when did you start your first cannabis venture or job?
It’s funny now, to look back at my experience of cannabis and my discovery of the plant as a metaphor for the rest of my life. I’m not just born, so my first experience with cannabis stretches back to the early 1970s. I grew up on my family’s farm in Morris County, New Jersey. It’s an ultra-affluent region of the state with many private schools out in the country. I always attended private school and my peers were the best and brightest, if not only the wealthiest of the region. This kind of disposable income would become the framework for my upbringing in Europe, Africa, and Brazil. My father was an international tax lawyer for our family business, manufacturing over-the-counter pharmaceuticals like Aqua Velva, Lectric Shave, Geritol, and Serutan. My family had factories all over the world with unique responsibilities in the tax arena that my late father specialized in at the time.
My upbringing certainly contributed to my cannabis consumption, smoking all different kinds of weed in far-off places around the world…But I’m getting ahead of myself for a moment.
The first time I smelled cannabis was on my family’s farm. It was in the 1960s. I know my favorite uncle was fond of the plant and the Grateful Dead…He certainly helped me become better acquainted with it over the years. That was when I was about twelve years old, I’m sixty now so it wasn’t just yesterday!
My first cannabis venture was in prep school. All my friends smoked weed, so it made sense to bring some back from California and introduce them to the kind…. I never made much money, but I did experiment with edibles, opening a door to future experiences that manifested themselves into the current day.
I always had really good cannabis around growing up and this certainly contributed to being disowned. My parents were really unhappy about my cannabis use and I remember getting caught with it in Bermuda. It was not a good thing for them, or for me when the hotel manager threatened to call the police. It was an experience I don’t recommend to anyone.
Pro-Tip. If you meet a friendly bartender you probably can get weed in Bermuda.
Give us your pitch, your mission, what are you really up to?
My mission dates back to the early apothecary, well-proven in my first book, Apothecary Cocktails (2013). The only ingredient my publisher would not let me use at the time was cannabis. Cannabis has a deep history in the early apothecary as I learned while conducting a book signing for my third book, Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails (2014) at the Pharmacy Museum located on Royal Street in New Orleans. I was attending the yearly gathering of the liquor world named Tales of the Cocktail. I worked as a rum judge for the Ministry of Rum and Rum XP as well as a master mixologist and Cocktail Whisperer in the liquor world. As a certified chef/saucier from my earlier career, and mixologist, my passion for about ten years after leaving the banking field, was the touchstone that drove me to my current venture. My venture is named for my 1850’s German Drinking Gnome (who has traveled the world with me), named Klaus.
What I have created is a take on one of my classic drinks that may or may not have come from the early apothecary. It is not another trendy seltzer, nor candy-flavored quaff. The libation that I’ve created is gleaned from the days where you would visit your apothecary when something ailed your gut. Which was pretty much all the time in the age before refrigeration and water purification.
My libation is refreshing, crisp, lip-smacking, aromatic, and thirst-quenching. It was a touch of mystery and it is certainly not sweet, although it has Great Britan-style ginger syrup as the base.
What sets this libation apart from those of my peers is a simple fact that my drink is a craft cocktail… It is made without alcohol of course, but it does include as part of the flavor and sensory profile, ten milligrams of live resin THC.
Live Resin in a cannabis cocktail (no alcohol) tastes and smells like the plant from which it emanates. I believe if your beverage has cannabis in it, the drink should taste like and at the very least, smell like specific strains of cannabis.
Personally, I think it’s lazy for formularies without a classically trained mixology background to create cannabis drinks that don’t taste like anything other than bubbles and fruit/vegetables. They may say there’s cannabis in there, but I cannot taste or smell it. So why put it in there in the first place? Commerce? Big business? They won’t notice? All of the above…
What was that trigger point that made you think to write your cannabis book?
I mentioned why I was inspired to write cannabis cocktails while in New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail… But the real reason was because of a fateful night in New York City and smoking cannabis in the street, leading to a 48-hour experience that no one should ever go through. I realized at that very moment, had the police not smelled the cannabis smoke, I might not have had that unique experience, and I may not have been inspired to write my book Cannabis Cocktails. Drinking a cannabis beverage is socially acceptable, whereas smoking cannabis in the street- well… Everyone knows your business. I prefer to be a bit less “loud” with my cannabis use in public. And then why is drinking socially acceptable and smoking is not? Ask your parents.
Govt says don't mix alcohol with cannabis as far as legal distribution law goes? And you have a way to do it well and make it taste better?
My forthcoming libation has no alcohol in it. This is not permitted by law. I am not advocating the use of alcohol and cannabis in my marketing for Klaus.
What I wrote in my book is in no way, shape, or form what I have created for the legal California market. I must make that abundantly clear. Again, there is no alcohol in any form in my beverage. That would be a real “buzz-kill”…
The recipes in Cannabis Cocktails are never to be duplicated in a licensed bar or restaurant. They are deeply illegal and that precious thing known as a liquor license will disappear faster than my parents disowned me for smoking weed.
Give us a history of Alcohol and Cannabis trends.
Follow history and distillation is the captain of the ship. Tobacco, a drug like cannabis, has been smoked since the age of sail. Hemp, the fibre that is in the cannabis genus was smoked as well as woven into the ropes that raised sails of the early explorers. Before hemp was discovered the world was not discovered by the way of sailing vessels. There was no way to hold the sails in place!
I call attention to the early buccaneers. They were not only smoking tobacco in their pipes!
What are your favorite cannabis cocktail recipes?
My favorite ones?
1) Vietnamese Iced Chicory Coffee with THC infused unsweetened condensed milk and cardamom bitters (good for the gut)
Cannabis-Infused Condensed Milk & Vietnamese Coffee (Cân Sa Và Cà Phê) Cold, Vietnamese style coffee, with its sweet, unctuous condensed milk offers nothing less than full body gratification. Now you can make a medicated version at home: the key is the THC Infused Condensed Milk on page 40. For this recipe, try making it with an Indica strain, like Blueberry: its fruity aromatics are a beautiful match for the chicory coffee. Darkly flavored Fire OG, also a Sativa, works well here, too. If you need a quick fix, skip the lengthy heating process involved in making infused condensed milk, and add no more than 10 ml of an Indica tincture to regular condensed milk before using it in your cocktail. Couchlock will be the result, so don’t be tempted to have more than one of these, and be sure to stay away from cars, bicycles, and anything else with wheels until the
effects of your Cân sa và cà phê have worn off.
• COCONUT WATER ICE CUBES
• 2 OUNCES (60 ML) THC
• INFUSED CONDENSED MILK (SEE PAGE 40)
• 1 TEASPOON POWDERED LECITHIN
• 6 OUNCES (180 ML) VIETNAMESE STYLE CHICORY COFFEE, COOLED
• MORE COCONUT WATER ICE CUBES, CRUSHED (OPTIONAL)
Add the coconut water ice cubes to a tall glass. Pour in the condensed milk, then stir in the lecithin. Top with the chicory coffee. Top with the crushed coconut water ice cubes, if desired. Stir, and serve immediately.
2) The Hoochie Coochie Man, a take on the classic Mango Lassi, with THC-infused Greek yogurt, Rhum Agricole from Martinique, Mango puree, and a dash of Peychaud’s bitters.
In India, where temperatures regularly hit three figures, cooling beverages are a must. Enter the lassi, a yogurt-based drink that’s akin to a smoothie. My favorite version features mango puree or, in a pinch, mango sorbet or sherbet paired with thick Greek-style yogurt and a snow shower of crushed coconut water ice. If you’re making a Hoochie Coochie Man, you’ll want to correct it with a little cannabis infused light rum. Try infusing your rum with Critical Kush, a mostly
Indica strain. It has deep aromatics of Asian spices, freshly turned soil, and a concentrated pungency that’s the right contrast for the sweetness of the mango and the yogurt. And there’s enlightenment in each sip. (This strain of Kush is a powerful full-body relaxant, though, so no driving or bicycle riding allowed!) Top off your Hoochie with a couple of drops of Creole bitters, which were originally invented as a remedy for dysentery.
• 4 OUNCES (120 ML) MANGO PUREE
• 4 OUNCES (120 ML) GREEK STYLE YOGURT
• 1 OUNCE (30 ML) CANNABIS INFUSED LIGHT RUM
• 1 CUP CRUSHED COCONUT WATER ICE
• CREOLE STYLE BITTERS
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Divide between two Burgundy wine glasses with plenty of freshly crushed coconut water ice. Dot each with a couple of drops of the Creole bitters.
3) The classic Absinthe Frappe’ with a backbone of THC infused Absinthe. Sort of like a Mojito with Absinthe instead of white rum. And weed, cannot forget that.
My Infused Absinthe is my own take on the classic and potent Green Dragon tincture, and it turns up in many of the cocktails in this book. Choose quality absinthe and, before you berate me for adulterating an excellent bottle of abs in with cannabis, let me remind you that cannabis found its way into just about every kind of alcohol in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Given its popularity, there’s nothing to suggest that absinthe missed the party. So, get out your hot plate (or your Magical Butter Machine), and add a dose of cannabis to the Green Fairy.
• 8 GRAMS GROUND, DECARBED CANNABIS
• 250 ML ABSINTHE, JADE LIQUEURS’ ESPRIT EDOUARD
Combine the cannabis and absinthe into a large, heatproof mason jar. Do not seal the jar. I repeat. Do not seal it; it could burst. Place the jar in the top of a double boiler set on an electric stove or hot plate. Heat the bottom of the boiler to 200°F (93°C). The top of the boiler, filled halfway up the sides of the canning jar, should not exceed 160°F (71°C). Simmer for 60 minutes at 160°F (71°C). Use a digital thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. Do not let the pot run dry! Stir the absinthe often, and
be sure to work in a well-ventilated space. Cool completely, then reconstitute the infused absinthe with fresh absinthe from the bottle to bring it up to your desired level.
Alternatively, you can make this infusion using the Magical Butter Machine. (No need to grind the cannabis.) Add the cannabis and liquor to the Magical Butter Machine, set the temperature to 160°F (71°C), and the timer to 2 hours.
DO NOT MAKE THESE IN A LICENSED ESTABLISHMENT…
What are the regulations around cannabis and drinks? vs cannabis and alcohol drinks?
Cannabis and alcohol together are illegal. Very delicious, but very illegal.. Do not make them in a bar or restaurant… please. On-premise would never allow cannabis where there is a liquor license.
There are multitudes of rules and regulations regarding cannabis in beverages. Too many to reproduce here! Why is that, when liquor is far more poisonous?
There are many cannabis beverages coming out these days. Define a good-tasting cannabis beverage. What characteristics do you look for when evaluating a cannabis beverage drink?
I’m unimpressed by seltzers and am on record for this trend of fizzy plonk. Also, if you are de-alcoholizing beer, maybe it would be a good idea to make the beverage taste like cannabis, or at least like a craft beer with cannabis in it?
A well-made cannabis beverage tastes and smells like the plant, in conjunction with the other fine ingredients of course! Why call it a cannabis beverage if you cannot taste or smell the flower?
Live Resin is helpful in craft mocktails by building the flavors and experiences of cannabis into the flavor/aromatics of the drink itself. Anything else is just not a well-crafted high-end beverage.
What are you excited about in cannabis right now and what are you looking forward to happening in 2022?
I’d really like to see the State of New Jersey pass regulations that allow for cannabis beverages when they re-negotiate the rules for legalization. As it stands, I may be born and raised in New Jersey but I can’t manufacture my THC/Live Resin beverage in the state because they’re worried about children being tempted to drink them. The same holds true for edibles as beverages are lumped into this sack of candy and brownies, instead of sophisticated cannabis beverages that never have a hangover attached.
If you could regulate the market and pass some bills, what are the bills in Cannabis you would pass for safe growth in Cannabis in US?
No comment.. I’m a loose cannon in this regard. I don’t know why cannabis is illegal when 190 proof ever-clear is sold in inner-city liquor stores! Poison!
Please add anything else as a closing remark you would like for consumers to learn about cannabis drinks.
Take the Thai food approach with spice… similar to the THC rule in Cannabis beverages. START SLOW.. you’d never eat Thai Spicy the first time eating Thai Food.
The same goes for Cannabis Beverages. No more than 5 mg until you get the hang of it!